WENDELL — East Wake used a swarming defense and a strong inside game on offense to roll to a 61-14 victory over North Lenoir in the girls championship game of the Pirates Holiday Classic on Saturday at Corinth Holders.
The Warriors (10-2) were never challenged against the Hawks, leading 16-3 after the first quarter on the final day of the two-day event.
Junior forward Kianna Wynn scored a game-high 21 points to pace East Wake and 6-foot sophomore forward Angel Rizor had 14.
“We always try to look to the post and make sure the post players touch the ball because we do have a height advantage over a lot of people,” East Wake coach Toni Vick said. “That is one of our strengths is to get it to the post and keep working it from there.”
The Warriors pounded the boards, scoring a lot of their baskets on follow-up shots after grabbing an offensive rebound. And their turnover-producing defense set up a number of easy fast-break opportunities.
“If the defense can keep forcing turnovers like we did in this tournament, we’ll be fine,” Vick said. “I felt like we did pretty well this tournament.
“It is going to help us because we didn’t need the whole break off. That would have been almost two weeks (without a game). By playing in this tournament, it helps us stay in shape and not lose our chemistry.”
Vick said she liked the progress the Warriors are making. East Wake is off to a 1-1 start in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference and will return to league play after the holiday tournament.
“As a team, defensively, we are getting better,” Vick said. “Offensively, we are working the ball around like we are supposed to. We have five seniors and they have been together for a while. The chemistry is getting better.”
The Warriors forced 11 turnovers in the first quarter alone, holding North Lenoir scoreless for a 6½-minute stretch. After the Hawks tied the score at 2-2, East Wake scored 12 straight points before North Lenoir made a free throw with 25.4 seconds left in the quarter.
For the game, East Wake forced 27 North Lenoir turnovers.
Erica Lee led North Lenoir (4-8) with six points.
In the girls third-place game, Rocky Mount defeated Corinth Holders 68-25 behind 18 points from Carman Richardson.
The Gryphons (5-5) have five freshmen on their team, two of which start, and three sophomores.
“We’re young and trying to find an identity,” Rocky Mount coach Pam Gainey said. “We’ve started out better than I anticipated.”
Corinth Holders (5-5) was led by Khadijah Neal with 10 points. Turnovers plagued the Pirates, coach Brandy Smith said.
“We just turned it over too many times,” Smith said.